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Delicious Gastronomic Guide to Bergen. Norway

10/12/2022 by .
gastronomic guide to Bergen

Cold can make you rather hungry, as Amy Mcpherson discovered in her Gastronomic guide to Bergen in November.

The city of Bergen on the west coast of Norway is one of the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Hailed for its organic product and a sustainable seafood culture, it seems like there is no better way to explore this city than to join a food tour, which suitably began at the harbourfront seafood market hall.

The market used to be a lot bigger,” explained our guide Anne, whose company Bergen Base Camp runs the food tour of the city. “These days the indoor hall is more of a restaurant place now, with only two stores still selling seafood.”

Ana hands us some very traditional delicacies, starting with a lightly fried fishcake made with 80% fish mixed with potato flour.

“Every family has a recipe for this fishcake, and it is a very typical quick food when you need to grab something on the go,” Anne explained as she continues to gather more food for the group from nearby vendors. I hardly had time to lick my fingers when Anne presents the next typical Norwegian finger food: waffles with the traditional brown cheese.

3 waffles w cheese

Brown cheese is a staple on every breakfast buffet in a Norwegian hotel. It is not really a cheese, but a by-product of the cheese-making process. It is sweet and tastes like caramel and paired great with waffles.

We leave the market behind and walk along the harbour. The locals say it rains most of the time here, but the Viking angel of luck – Hamingja – must be with us as the sky was a clear pale blue on this brilliant day, and the water so still the reflection of the colourful wooden houses of Bryggen is perfectly mirrored.

4 Bryggen

Until the 1820s, Bergen was the largest city in medieval Scandinavia. The Hanseatic League brought wealth to Bergen by setting up trade offices in the Bryggen, and the restored wooden houses that sit along the harbourfront are now a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Of the many merchandises that pass hands through here, one prized product continues to be the jewel of Bergen’s culinary world. A style of dried cod made in traditional methods called Stockfish (or Tørrfisk in Norwegian) is Bergen (and most of coastal Norway)’s oldest and largest export.

5 stockfish

Anne reaches into her backpack and takes out what appeared to be a mummified fish. “And this is the Stockfish!” She declared in triumph.

The fish is passed around. It is stone hard and leathery on the touch and smelt of nothing. Preserved by the natural method of air drying, this cod can be kept for as long as it doesn’t rot. Rumour has it that in the dining hall of the nearby Bryggen Tracteursted hangs a specimen that is 400 years old and is still edible.

6 more stockfish

“You can’t cook the fish straight away,” explained Anne, who takes out a container of previously prepared flakes of said fish. “You need to rehydrate it by soaking it in soaked in a mixture of water and lye before using it in your cooking.”

Preservation seems to be the key here, both in the fish and Bergen’s way of maintaining the old in an ever-growing city. The wooden houses aren’t just confined to the Bryggen area. Clusters of blue, red, and yellow wooden houses sprawl onto the hills that surround Bergen, all well-built, and well-preserved.

Bergen used to be the largest wooden house city in Europe, and it was in fact the English that introduced buildings with stones and bricks in Norway.

7 wooden houses

We crisscross narrow streets lined with wooden houses, many of them rendered over to conceal the wooden panels on the façade, which has become somewhat of a fashion to do.  We reach the district of Sandviken, a traditional fishing area of Bergen where a round bathhouse from 1889 is now a friendly neighbourhood pub, Dr. Wiesener.

We taste sip on the local cider, as Ana tells the story of a Viking shipwreck that was found with various varieties of ancient apples, which the country is considering the re-cultivation for cider making. Then, we were treated to the perfect antidote of a cold winter’s day in Bergen: a bowl of steaming mutton soup cooked with root vegetables, another traditional dish served around Christmas.

8 mutton soup

Speaking of Christmas, after the tour, I take myself down to KODE museum complex for some eye candy – literally – the world’s largest Gingerbread City, Pepperkakebyen. The air in the room was cinnamon sweet, and there is a moving gingerbread train connection between the river, the castle, the Ferris wheel and a perfectly baked Eiffel Tower. As a tradition since 1991, Bergen’s citizens, from the very young to the older generation, have participated in assembling the Gingerbread City every year and profits from entry fees are donated to charities for children in need.

9 Pepperkakebyen

A day well spend can only complete with a finale dinner at the spectacularly decorated restaurant Frescohallen, where we dine on the all-important staple of seafood delights with a good wine list to pair with.

11 end

As a destination for weekend getaways,this Gastronomic Guide to Bergen Bergen delights all senses. Seafood lovers in particular will not be disappointed!

Tell Me More About this Gastronomic Guide to Bergen

Getting There

Norway’s leading domestic airline Widerøe, flies from London and Aberdeen direct to its domestic hub in Bergen, where travellers have a wide range of connections to many of Norway’s destinations. Single fares from London to Bergen start from £62.

FlyBus offers convenient bus transfer between Bergen airport and various stops in the city centre. Single trip from 149NOK. Book online.

Where to Stay in Bergen

Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret is in an elegant Baroque Revival building situated on the edge of Bergen harbour by the UNESCO heritage-listed Bryggen. Climb up the hotel’s historic clock tower for a panorama view of Bergen, and enjoy breakfast, afternoon snack (Fikka) and dinner as part of your room rate.

The four-star Hanseatic Hotel is built on historic ground within the Finnegaarden Trading House at Bryggen. Each nostalgic yet stylish room features a different décor and configuration, and the hotel is within short walking distance to all of Bergen’s attractions.

Where to Eat in Bergen

Out the many choices shown in the gastronomic guide to Bergen, Bryggen Tracteursted serves traditional Norwegian coastal cuisine, including various forms of cod and mutton dishes in a historic wooden dining hall.

Frescohallen’s seasonal modern Norwegian cuisine is served in a hall fully decorated with vibrant murals depicting everyday life in Bergen. Do try the Norwegian oyster if in season.

How to get the most out of this gastronomic Guide to Bergen

The Bergen Card is a great way to get the most out of your gastronomic guide to Bergen, offering free or discounted entry to many attractions and activities, discounted shopping, free access to the tram and bus network in the city centre and more.

A food and culture guided walk and other food-related tours can be booked with the Bergen Tourist Office


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